Instagram is a hugely popular social network centered around sharing retro images with friends, and while it continues to add users by the millions, it will likely soon see a somewhat sizable defection in light of recent events. Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday announced that Facebook will acquire Instagram for $1 billion. The deal will make Instagram’s small team rich and give the app exposure to millions of new users, but it will also bring a fresh round of privacy concerns that have already begun to surface. For those who avoid Facebook and its suite of services, deleting an Instagram account couldn’t be easier: users can simply visit the company’s account removal page, log in, and select a reason for their account removal requests from the drop-down menu. As it turns out, “privacy concerns” is the very first option.
In a recent feature about Windows 8 and an earlier piece covering some of the problems facing iPad competitors, we mentioned the lack of multi-user login support as one area where media tablet vendors were missing the mark. The iPad also lacks multi-user support of course, but some features associated with multiple login functionality will become available to iPad users beginning Thursday. Skyfire, maker of the popular like-named mobile Web browser, released an updated version of its iPad browser on Thursday that includes a new “HotSwap” feature. The feature allows multiple users to share the same iPad and swap browser profiles, thus eliminating the need to log out of websites and services each time a different family member picks up the device. So, for example, a user can keep all of his or her tabs open and remain logged into Facebook, Twitter and Amazon even if another user logs into the same sites using a different profile. Skyfire with HotSwap is available as a free update for current users, and the app costs $4.99 for new users. The company’s press release follows below, along with a video showcasing the new HotSwap feature. More →
Late last summer, I wrote an article titled Dear tablet makers: You’re doing it wrong in which I shared my view on what I believe to be one of the biggest problems currently facing tablet vendors. In this article, I postulated that most Android tablets failed to make a splash because, in a nutshell, they bring nothing new to the table. Of course Android offers a vastly different user interface and user experience as compared to Apple’s market-leading iPad, but in terms of true differentiation — unique and desirable features offered to tablet buyers that cannot be found on the iPad — Android tablets have historically been lacking. More →
Facebook’s Messenger app for Windows 7 computers leaked to the public late last year. The service was initially in a beta phase, but as of Monday it’s been officially released. Facebook previously created a Messenger app for iOS and Android smartphones, which allowed users to quickly chat with friends, share their location or photos and more. The desktop version, unfortunately, does not feature video chat and is limited to Windows 7, although Facebook is “working on making the app available for more operating systems, so stay tuned.”
Future versions of Apple’s iOS operating system may incorporate new fitness sharing technology, according to a patent uncovered by AppleInsider. The new technology will encourage users to be more competitive by allowing them to share and compare their performance in real-time with other users around the world. The patent, which was filed only three months ago, builds upon the functionality of the Nike+ iPod system, which allows a user to complete his or her workout and then upload and share the results with others. Apple’s solution, however, would allow users to share live data with other iOS users. Read on for more.
On Wednesday, Android head Andy Rubin said that Google’s Music Store will offer a special “twist” that will separate it from its competitors. Speaking to Business Insider, an anonymous record industry source said the “twist” is that Google Music users will be able to share songs with other users “on a limited basis.” Reportedly, the catch is that users will need to purchase the song first and friends will only be able to listen to the track for a limited amount of time. The service reminds us a lot of Spotify, which allows users to share tracks with one another for free. However, the free version of Spotify requires a user to listen to an occasional advertisement unless they sign up for one of two monthly subscription options. It is unclear when Google will launch its Music Store, but rumors have suggested it could make its debut this quarter. More →
Research In Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie took the wraps off a new NFC-based BlackBerry service during his keynote presentation at the GITEX conference in Dubai this week. Dubbed BlackBerry Tag, the new feature will allow BlackBerry users to share contact information, documents, URLs, photos and other multimedia files by tapping one handset against another. BlackBerry Tag will also allow users to add each other as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) contacts with a simple tap. “BlackBerry Tag is an exciting and innovative feature that makes sharing contact information and multimedia content effortless and seamless,” Balsillie said in a statement. “BlackBerry Tag opens a new dimension to the BlackBerry platform that is powerful, simple and intuitive and we think it will be welcomed by both users and developers.” BlackBerry Tag will be enabled on NFC-equipped handsets in an upcoming BlackBerry 7 OS update. RIM’s full press release follows below. More →
Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has released a new application called “Messenger” for Android and the iPhone. Messenger allows users to quickly chat with friends, create group chats, share their location or photos and more. It doesn’t appear that Facebook will tie it in with its Facebook Chat application just yet, but you can access your Facebook inbox from the new app. Unfortunately, it does not offer the same delivered/read alerts that competing services such as BBM, iMessage and WhatsApp offer. The free application is available in both the Android Market and the iTunes App Store now. Facebook acquired a messaging platform called Beluga in March and this is likely the preliminary fruit of that purchase. More →
AT&T on Monday announced pre-order availability of its first “Facebook Phone,” the HTC Status. Social butterflies on the nation’s No. 2 wireless carrier can pre-order the sleek smartphone for $49.99 on contract beginning immediately, and the phone will arrive in stores this Sunday, July 17th. Aimed squarely at young Facebook fanatics, the HTC Status features Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread, a QWERTY keypad, a 5-megapixel camera and a dedicated Facebook sharing button. “We can’t wait to put the HTC Status in the hands of our young customers who will waste no time tapping into Facebook to update their friends,” said AT&T Senior VP of Devices, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets Jeff Bradley in a statement. “We’re also really pleased to offer the hottest new smartphone at an affordable price to this important, socially savvy youth market.” Also of note, Best Buy will be the exclusive purveyor of the HTC Status in a special limited edition mauve color when the phone launches next week. AT&T’s full press release follows below. More →
Apple has been testing a new wireless sharing feature that could allow users to quickly and easily transfer files from various iOS devices, PatentlyApple has discovered. The technology will no doubt compete with HP’s webOS “Touch-to-share” feature, which lets the Palm Pre3 and the TouchPad share files with one another. Though there is no indication as to when Apple might implement the tech, Apple’s patents outline a technology that appears to one-up HP’s offering. The patent describes the sharing experience as including both visual and audio aspects. As PatentlyApple points out, imagine an iPad “sucking” the files from your iPhone with a vacuum noise, and seeing the files leave the iPhone and appear on the iPad in an animated fashion. Or, as the image above shows, a user might be able to “pour” the files from an iPhone onto an iPad. The transfer process may also include “physical, intuitive gestures.” The patent application number 20110163944 was filed in the first quarter of 2010 and the inventors listed are Brett Bilbrey, Nicholas King and Todd Benjamin. More →
AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon have reached an agreement with music and movie publishers that will help enforce copyright infringement while giving the ISPs a chance to level with their customers. According to Ars Technica, copyright owners will continue to scour the dark corners of the net looking for anyone downloading and illegally sharing their content. If an IP is found to be downloading or sharing illegal content — likely via P2P networks — the music and movie companies will alert the ISP directly. ISP’s will then send a note to the offending customer, without passing off private information unless there is a court order to do so. Users may get up to four alerts from the ISP, but after that the ISP can choose to start implementing “temporary reductions of Internet speeds, redirection to a landing page until the subscriber contacts the ISP to discuss the matter or reviews and responds to some educational information about copyright, or other measures that the ISP may deem necessary to help resolve the matter.” If a user believes he or she has been targeted without merit, an appeals process can be started for a $35 fee but, as Ars Technica notes, it’s unclear who will be the judge in that process. Read on for the full details on the six strikes. More →
In my review of the HP TouchPad, which we published last night, I went off on a tangent about the “touch-to-share” functionality Hewlett-Packard introduced with the TouchPad tablet and the Pre 3 smartphone. I think it bears repeating. In a nutshell, touch-to-share allows the user to tap a webOS smartphone to the TouchPad in order to push any URL in an open browser page from one device to the other. I wrote at length about this feature, which is still in its infancy but exhibits tremendous potential. But the real value for touch-to-share goes far beyond the technology itself. The feature is great and HP can take it in a million different directions, but the bigger picture here is that touch-to-share can become an amazing way for HP to differentiate its tablet from the competition in a way that might actually pique consumers’ interest. Tech companies are so concerned with catching up right now that they forgot a very important piece of the puzzle: valuable differentiation. Flash, for example, is not a way for a company to differentiate its products — just ask the senior RIM executive who recently made a plea for RIM to step up its game. Companies are so concerned with pushing media tablets out to market that they’re forgetting to give consumers a reason to buy them over the market leader, the Apple iPad. If an Apple competitor ever wants to see real, long-term success with a tablet line, valuable differentiated features like a mature touch-to-share solution are paramount. With that, hit the break for my thoughts on the technology, as originally seen in our review of the HP TouchPad. More →
We’ve just been sent a shot of AT&T’s upcoming Facebook-centric device, the AT&T HTC Status. The device looks pretty identical to the European HTC ChaCha, save for the obvious AT&T branding. We exclusively reported the HTC Status would be the official name of the device here in the U.S., and now that it’s confirmed, we have to say, it’s one of the most logical names for a device we can think of in recent memory. One more shot of the Facebook phone that’s not a Facebook phone, after the break.